Firefighters receive National Emergency Medals

Rutherglen district firefighters joined more than 700 district volunteer firefighters and CFA staff members to be honoured with National Emergency Medals for their efforts in the 2019-2020 Australian bushfire crisis last Friday night.

The National Emergency Medal is part of Australia’s Honours and Awards system and recognises significant or sustained service to others in a nationally significant Australian emergency.

The North East firefighters from Rutherglen, Wahgunyah, Browns Plains, Barnawartha, Carlyle, Cornishtown, Indigo Valley, Norong and Chiltern became the latest of more than 5,500 CFA members to receive the honour for the 2019-2020 fires.

CFA Board member Dawn Hartog, who presented the medals last Friday in Wodonga, said they were an important recognition of the valiant efforts of CFA members.

“The National Emergency Medal is a formal recognition that Australia appreciates the efforts and contributions of CFA members during the 2019-2020 bushfire crisis,” she said.

“It is a great honour to receive this medal and I hope it goes a small way to thanking our members for their service.

In total, 21 members of the Rutherglen CFA were awarded the prestigious medal.

“This was a proud moment for our members and their family and friends, but at the same time, a time to reflect on the devastating season we and so many others both in the emergency services and the public faced,” Rutherglen Brigade Captain Dave Hawkey said.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan spoke of his pride for the CFA members’ efforts.

“The 2019/2020 fires devastated East Gippsland and the North East of Victoria,” he said.

“But from that crisis arose the most remarkable human spirit of generosity and ‘lending a hand’.

“Our medal recipients have exemplified that spirit, and I am incredibly proud of each and every one of them.

“Whether they joined a firefighting strike team, worked in an Incident Control Centre or provided other assistance to affected communities – every contribution was valuable made a real difference.

Myrtleford Fire Brigade Captain and medal recipient, Gloria Pizzolitto, said it was an honour to be formally recognised.

“Volunteer fireys don’t do the job for praise or awards – we do it to help out fellow Australians in need. That said, it is nice for the hard work of our volunteers to be formally recognised in this way,” she said.

The National Emergency Medal with the Bushfires 2019- 2020 pin.